‘House of horrors’ Turpin children still ‘living in squalor’ four years on despite $600,000 donations

Turpin siblings, then aged between 2 and 29, were malnourished, and sexually and physically abused by their parents

Alisha Rahaman Sarkar
Monday 22 November 2021 13:16
Jordan Turpin's escape from 'house of horror' shown in never-before-seen bodycam footage
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The 13 siblings rescued from abusive conditions in their family home in southern California four years ago have been failed by the social services system that was meant to protect them, according to a new report.

Then aged between two and 29, the Turpin children were forced to live in dangerous conditions in their home in Perris city. They were starved, locked out of their homes and shackled to their beds as punishment for weeks, and at times, even months. They lived in squalor. Twelve of the 13 children were found malnourished, and sexually and physically abused.

Mike Hestrin, Riverside County district attorney, said that they “have been victimised again by the system”, which is preventing them from accessing $600,000 (£446,385) in private donations, according to ABC News.

Some of the adult children are again living in squalor, Mr Hestrin said. “They’re living in crime-ridden neighbourhoods. There's money for their education — they can't access it.”

A court-appointed conservatorship has reportedly pushed them to the brink of homelessness. Most of the funds are collected into a trust, which is controlled by a court-appointed public guardian.

Riverside County has hired a private law firm to look into allegations that seven adults and six minor children did not receive basic services after being freed. There is also a criminal investigation into a foster family that allegedly mistreated children, including one of the Turpins.

Some of the children “felt betrayed” by local officials’ handling of their cases, said Melissa Donaldson, Riverside County’s director of victim services. She added that the children at times did not have a safe place to stay or enough food.

Joshua Turpin, 29, said he couldn’t access funds to cover transportation needs and when he asked for help from the county’s deputy public guardian assigned to his case, “she would just tell me, ‘Just go Google it.’”

“I called the public guardian’s office and she refused to let me request for a bike,” he said.

The shocking abuse in the Turpins’ home went unnoticed until then 17-year-old Jordan Turpin escaped from the house with an old phone and called the police. Jordan and one of her sisters gave their first media interview on Friday’s episode of ABC’s 20/20.

“I was always terrified that if I called the cops or tried to escape, I would get caught, and then I knew I would die if I got caught. But at the end, when I saw all my younger siblings, I knew that’s what I had to do,” Jordan said.

After being rescued from “the house of horrors”, some of the younger siblings spent years in foster homes where they were allegedly subjected to child abuse.

The parents, David and Louise Turpin, were sentenced to life in prison on charges including 12 counts of torture, seven counts of abuse of a dependent, six counts of child abuse, 12 counts of false imprisonment, and one count of a lewd act on a child against David.

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